With the PS2 coming to the end of its lifecycle and the PS3 on shelves, it's interesting that EA has decided to give the Burnout series one last crack on previous generation hardware. Dominator tries a few things which aren't exactly new, but it still manages to change a few others since the release of Revenge. While we wait for the next generation Burnout, Dominator will have to do and EA has done a fine job, however it does have a few problems.
To be quite frank, Dominator really is Revenge in a new uniform and while that may be true for the entire series, it just seems that this one is a little too close to the last game. There are a number of game modes to choose from including the World Circuit, introduced by EA in Burnout 3, but there are also some shock omissions such as the lack of crash levels. There is also one brand new game mode dubbed "Maniac Mode", however this mode is more a case of using some old concepts and calling it new rather than a revolutionary feature for the series.
To be fair, EA never said that this is the next Burnout, that title goes to the X360 and PS3 game in development, but it's not exactly being called an expansion pack either. The gameplay remains the tried and tested formula of insane high speed racing with different modes thrown in to spice things up. The new mode - Maniac Mode - basically tasks you with driving as you normally would in Burnout except you must try and obtain points. To do so you drive on the wrong side of the road, drive near cars, drift around corners and generally just create mayhem. As mentioned above, perhaps the biggest change though is the lack of crash levels for the first time in a Burnout game.
Dominator perhaps is the most difficult Burnout game so far, and you won't find yourself moving through the game all that quickly, mainly because all traffic now damages your car rather than only head on traffic. This also makes the game incredibly frustrating. Even in the first person view, the game is travelling so fast that it is very hard to see upcoming traffic. It will take a little while for players to get used to this and we can pretty much say the first thirty minutes with Dominator is incredibly frustrating, even to those familiar to the series.
The game modes are not as fleshed out as the other games as well. The World Circuit mode does feature a wide variety of tracks but fails to show a world map or even indicate where you are racing. It has always been a fictional world that the game is set in, but it's at least nice to see which cities are inspiring the environment. With that said, there are levels which are obviously American cities and Asian cities, where the main distinction is the style of your car.
Speaking of cars, Dominator does have a wide variety on offer. You start out with the classics with imitations of cars from the 60s and 70s to drive around in. As you progress through you unlock more cars which imitate more recent times. The cars do take damage but this is purely cosmetic and the performance is not affected. If you are good enough to unlock all the cars in a division (the cars are unlocked in different ways with Dominator, it's not just winning races anymore) and win the dominator event, you gain access to the most powerful car in the class which 'dominates' the series.
While there is no multiplayer online for this game you can play split screen multiplayer and there is also a new mode where you can pass the controller amongst people if only one is available. The PSP has wireless multiplayer but not via infrastructure mode.
The graphics are one of the better aspects of the title but there is one problem; the game is so detailed in its scenery that it's very hard to see upcoming traffic which can make it tough to play. With the higher speed cars you will find yourself restarting quite a bit as you need a few races to learn the track. This is a real disappointment as it is a step backwards for the series and despite the detailed graphics it doesn't make up for this problem. The music and sound effects are good but for some reason EA decided to debut "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne in this game. It doesn't suit the game at all and the Spanish version included is just a bit mind boggling.
Burnout Dominator continues the series tradition but the tradition may be becoming a little lacklustre. The major lacking of changes since Revenge has us pining for Burnout 5 rather than this title. Dominator is fun, but perhaps one game too many in the series.